Research Team

Lead Investigators

UNC Faculty

Alice Ammerman, DrPH, RD

Alice Ammerman is professor of Nutrition and Director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at UNC.  She is an internationally recognized expert in community-based participatory research and the development of lifestyle interventions to reduce racial and socioeconomic disparities, including policy and environmental change.  She is one of the Co-PIs for the overall P50 grant and has extensive experience in community capacity building, multi-level interventions in community based clinical trials, local food systems research, and social entrepreneurship.

Darren DeWalt, MD, MPH

Dr. Darren DeWalt is a general internist with interest in care system design and health literacy. He has conducted several clinical trials testing new models of primary care delivery that improve outcomes, particularly for patients with low health literacy. He also helped to create a national program, Improving Performance in Practice, that provides support to primary care practices to implement new care strategies. He facilitates improvement within his internal medicine practice and has also assisted hundreds of other primary care practices around the country to implement chronic illness care and prevention programs.

Tom Keyserling, MD, MPH

Dr. Keyserling grew up in Beufort, SC, and received his undergraduate degree from Duke University in 1976.  He is a graduate of Emory Medical School, completed his residency training in medicine at the University of Rochester, completed a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Fellowship at UNC, and received a masters of public health degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1987. During the last 20 years, Dr. Keyserling has been involved with a variety of community-based randomized trials of behavioral interventions designed to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease in low-income and disadvantaged populations.  These studies have focused on improving both dietary and physical activity behaviors, and outcomes have included change in blood cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, and physical activity as measured by acceleromter technology. More recently, Dr. Keyserling has been involved in trials of behavioral interventions to improve diabetes self-care in African Americans with type 2 diabetes.

Cam Patterson, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.C., F.A.H.A

Dr. Patterson is the Chief of the Division of Cardiology, and a Distinguished Professor of Medicine. He also has appointments in the Departments of Pharmacology and Cell and Developmental Biology.  Patterson went to medical school and performed his residency at Emory University in Atlanta, and is currently is the Henry Foscue Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cardiology.  Dr. Patterson is also an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association and a Burroughs-Welcome Fund Clinical Scientist in Translational Research. He is recognized for his basic and clinical research programs in the areas of angiogenesis, heart failure, and cardiovascular genomics and serves on the editorial boards at Circulation, Circulation Research, and is also a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of University Cardiologists.  Dr. Patterson also serves as one of the Co-PIs for the overal P50 grant.

ECU Faculty

Skip Cummings, PharmD

Dr. Cummings is currently the Berbecker Distinguished Professor of Rural Medicine, a full professor in Family Medicine, Pediatrics, and Public Health, as well as a Research Professor of Pharmacy at the UNC – Chapel Hill School of Pharmacy. Dr. Cummings also serves as the  Associate Director for several departments and agencies, including for Pharmacy at Eastern Area Health Education Center, for Research at ECU’s Pediatric Healthy Weight Research and Treatment Center, and for Translational Research at the ECU Metabolic Institute. Additionally, he serves as Director of the Research Division in Family Medicine, and co-director of the Eastern Carolina Association for Research and Education – a practice based research network in eastern NC.

Dr. Cummings has worked in primary care practices and has been actively involved in obesity, diabetes, and hypertension research and practice for many years. His research, teaching, and patient care goals are to improve diabetes and cardiovascular care delivery and to prevent the development of these diseases in at-risk individuals.

Stephanie B. Jilcott Pitts, PhD

Dr. Stephanie Jilcott Pitts was born and raised in Bertie County, eastern North Carolina. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her PhD is in Nutrition, with a minor in Epidemiology. Upon degree completion, she served as a missionary/nutritionist with World Harvest Mission in Bundibugyo, Uganda, designing and evaluating nutrition programs for malnourished and at-risk children. She came to the ECU Department of Public Health in July 2008. She teaches 2 courses and advises several ECU Masters of Public Health students. Dr. Jilcott Pitts currently works on several projects, including a cardiovascular disease risk reduction program for women of reproductive age, a project examining correlates of obesity among female Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, and a project to examine the environmental correlates of obesity among Pitt County youth.

There are several other members of the research team that are not listed among those listed here**